Keep The “Hard” Days Hard & The “Easy” Days Easy – Running Life Lesson #7
A colleague recently asked me if I could provide some advice for his son on how he might improve his running going into his senior year of High School Cross-Country. His son was not the star on the team, but he was in the top five and was interested in running well next season.
I asked my colleague to e-mail a sample of his son’s training schedule, which he sent to me a few days later. When I studied how his son trained over a two week period, I noticed that every day he was training at or near race pace at some point during the training session, essentially making each day a hard day of training with no recovery days.
My advice to him was simple; replace several of his hard training days with some easy days or recovery days, and to never have two consecutive hard training days in his training schedule. I explained if he did this, he would see a dramatic improvement in his times and would run stronger and faster in his races.
Our bodies and minds were not meant to operate at peak levels everyday for long periods of time. Hard days are meant to stretch our bodies and to train them to become more efficient and to accept and adapt to the pain at higher levels. However, easy days are just as important as they give our bodies a chance to recover and repair strained muscles. We tear our bodies down on hard days, and we allow them to rest and get stronger on the easy days. Easy days of training compliment hard days and are just as essential in order for us to become optimal runners.
I implemented this philosophy this past year for the High School Varsity Cross-Country team that I coached. My training plan only had three hard days and four recovery days over a week, and my team won our league championship last year. The success of my cross-country team is living proof of the power of the hard/easy day concept.
Life, like running, requires days that we must work hard in order to achieve success; however, we must also schedule in times of recovery. Our bodies and minds require rest and periods when we must disengage and recover from the daily grind and obstacles in life.
I apply the 6/1 rule in my life that seems to work quite effectively. I engage life hard for six days a week, but on the 7th day, Sunday, I rest and recover. My Sunday’s are quite simple. I rise fairly early and allow myself two hours in the morning to plan my week. I have breakfast with my family, I go to Church, and then I come home or go out for a nice lunch with my family. After lunch, I lounge on the couch with my wife, and watch movies all day and into the night. I turn off my phone, I don’t check e-mail or social media, and I don’t exercise or fill my schedule with any events on this day. I totally disengage with the world outside of the cocoon and comforts of my family and home. Sundays, have become a special day and something I look forward to each week. When Monday comes and my week begins once again, I feel energized and ready to attack what the week has for me. I can do this each week with ease because I have a recovery day built into my schedule.
The key for you is that you intentionally plan recovery time in your week. The 6/1 rule works for me; you must discover what works for you. The point is to recover and allow your soul to rest and get stronger. Do you intentionally rest during the week and if not, what are your waiting for?